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Through Best Starts for Kids, King County’s communities are helping young people grow into their potential and pursue their aspirations. Teens and young adults who face systemic and institutional racism are more likely to be excluded from higher education and employment and more likely to be pushed into the criminal legal system. Culturally responsive support from their communities — equitable access to resources, partners who can champion their voices, and guidance from people they trust — creates space for them in the pathways from school to life success.

Learn more about Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline and see results:

How are we doing?

601 young people enrolled in programs that link them to relationships, guidance, and resources within their communities. For example, Creative Justice builds relationships between community allies, mentor artists, and youth who are directly involved in the juvenile legal system.

23 young people participated in in-depth mentoring programs. These programs build dedicated, long-term relationships between youth who face systemic racism in the education and legal system and an adult who shares their life experience and can be both a role model and an advocate.

193 young people enrolled in services that help youth connect to resources, a healthy system of support for meeting their goals, and advocates who can champion their voices. These programs help youth with academic challenges, support them in reengaging with school, and connect them to mental health services, among many other kinds of support.

How are we doing?

22 young people enrolled in Theft 3 and Mall Safety (T3AMS), part of a pilot project at Westfield Southcenter. T3AMS directs young people who make the mistake of shoplifting into mentoring and other support and out of the legal system. Mentors placed at the mall build relationships with teens and preteens who come there often, preventing shoplifting in the first place and keeping T3AMS participation low — the ideal outcome.

T3AMS is a partnership between Westfield Southcenter, the Tukwila Police Department, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, King County Department of Public Defense, Glover Empower Mentoring, SafeFutures Youth Center, and Horn of Africa Services.

How are we doing?

57 young people involved in the legal system accessed education and legal services through a partnership between Best Starts, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Truancy Team, Neighborhood House, Reconnect to Opportunity, and Youth Source — increasing the likelihood that they will remain in school and graduate into employment.

How are we doing?

Best Starts for Kids partnered with the King County Superior Court to co-sponsor the Rebuild the Village pilot project focused on capacity building and funding for credible messengers. Credible messengers are local community members who share experiences with the young people they serve, and service providers who enhance the existing network of services available for youth and young adults most impacted by the justice system. The Rebuild the Village project helps credible messengers collaborate with community-based service providers to provide a wider range of services than typical service models accommodate, such as engaging youth and young adults in hard to reach settings, reaching out during non-standard times of the day or week, and reaching out through key community relationships connected with the young people served.

Read more about Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline on the Best Starts Blog:

Starting in March 2020, households across our region and across the country will have the opportunity to participate in the 2020 Census. Your participation matters. Learn how you can promote a fair and accurate census at

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